Notes: Couples holds Prez Cup meeting
Friday, May 8, 2009
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Listening to Fred Couples talk about his first meeting with potential U.S. players for the Presidents Cup team gave some insight into how different he will be as a captain.
“It went well,” he said Friday. “I talked, they listened. Which is the way you’re supposed to have it.”
The PGA Tour invited the top 30 players in the Presidents Cup standings for a Wednesday afternoon meeting in the clubhouse at The Players Championship.
That should answer Kevin Sutherland’s question as he read the invitation and wondered if he was supposed to go (he is No. 30). And it explains why Scott Verplank (No. 40) jokingly said to Couples after running into him at dinner Wednesday night, “Thanks for the invitation.”
Not every eligible player attended the meeting, the most noteworthy being Tiger Woods. Couples and Woods exchanged text messages after the meeting, which according to Couples went like this:
Couples: “You hurt my feelings.”
Woods: “I’m on the boat. You should have had the meeting on the boat.”
Couples: “You’re right. We could have fit 40 (players) on the boat.”
Woods: “I’m watching a movie with my baby on my lap.”
Couples: “OK. That’s a good spot for you to be.”
Also at the meeting was assistant captain Jay Haas, who gave a short speech. Couples, meanwhile, said his speech mainly focused on apologizing for wasting their time. There are still three majors and a World Golf Championship before the top 10 players earn a spot on the team, and the two captain’s picks will be announced after the second FedEx Cup playoff event.
“I think I know most of them well,” Couples said. “I don’t think there was anything said. We talked about the 11th and 12th spot, and how anything could go.”
The team uniforms already have been selected.
“Couple of suits, seven pairs of pants, seven shirts, some sweaters, rain gear,” Couples said, keeping it simple.
The matches will be held Oct. 8-11 at Harding Park in San Francisco.
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CHOPRA’S RUN: Daniel Chopra was so furious after his opening 75, especially with two balls in the water on the 17th, that he was ready to pack his bags. Good thing he stuck around.
First, the Swede matched the course record by becoming the 10th player to shoot a 30 on the back nine at TPC Sawgrass. Three holes, and three birdies later, he was thinking about the course record of 63 held by Fred Couples (1992) and Greg Norman (1994).
Chopra already was 9 under with six holes to play.
And even after a bogey on the fifth hole, he answered with a birdie to stay in the hunt for a course record. But he pulled his tee shot on the 240-yard eighth hole and had to scramble for a bogey. Then came the par-5 ninth. His plan all along was a 3-wood off the tee because it was difficult to reach the green.
“You only get so many chances to shoot 62 or 63 around here,” Chopra said.
He hit driver into the rough, laid up, then hit his wedge heavy enough to find the bunker. He wound up with another bogey and a 65, that took him to 4-under 140.
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NOT SO GREAT SCOTT: Adam Scott has never missed more than four cuts in any season as a PGA Tour member. Despite chipping it for eagle on the final hole Friday for 74 at The Players Championship, he missed his fifth consecutive cut.
Scott has not made a cut on the PGA Tour since his runner-up finish at the Sony Open in January. His two paychecks since then have come at World Golf Championships, which have no cut.
The 28-year-old Australian had a knee cap injury during the offseason, but most of his woes stem from his swing getting so far out of sorts that it feels as though he is going through a change just to get back to where he was.
At times, he hits the ball beautifully. Other times, he hits it off the course — literally. On Thursday, his tee shot on No. 4 went so far right that it found a water hazard on the adjacent Valley Course.
Scott is headed to his home in Switzerland before returning to the Byron Nelson Championship and Colonial.”I feel like it’s close, but I need to let you between the ears,” Scott said. “I can’t do any worse than some of these shots.”
• • •
DRIVER WANTED: Rod Pampling hit his last shot with a driver on the practice range Friday morning when he noticed the top of his driver had a 2-inch crack. Trouble was, he didn’t have a backup driver handy, and his tee time was 15 minutes away.
Pampling made like Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open last year, playing the second round without a driver.
And he said he felt like Tiger Woods.
“You’d get up to this beast of a hole and you could hear the fans say, ‘Why is he hitting a 3-wood,’ ” Pampling said.
It wasn’t all bad. The crack occurred with enough time before his round that the Australian could get his mind ready to play without a driver. The difference in length is about 25 yards, so Pampling had to play the par-5 11th as a three-shot hole.
Pampling shot 73 and was at 1-under 143.
His lone birdie came on the par-3 17th with the island green. No driver was necessary.
• • •
END OF A RUN?: Along with being a Masters champion, two-time Players Champion and former No. 1 in the world, Fred Couples is most proud of being consistently good for so long. Even with a suspect back the last 15 years, he has finished out of the top 125 on the money list only twice in his career — including two years ago, when he played only three events.
He missed the cut Friday after rounds of 80-71, and Couples never had a chance.
After playing in South Korea two weeks ago, practicing hard for The Players Championship, he was putting his clubs in the car to drive to the airport when he tweaked his back. Two hours later, he was on a flight to Atlanta.
“I got off the plane and should have just gone home,” he said. “I couldn’t move and I felt terrible.”
The 49-year-old Couples will join the Champions Tour later this year. For all the highlights he has provided, was this his last appearance in The Players Championship.
“If I stay in the 125, I’ll play next year,” he said.
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DIVOTS: Rory McIlroy finished with a double bogey for a 77 to miss the cut by seven shots, the first time he has missed the cut in seven starts this year on the PGA Tour. ... The cut was at even-par 144, with 83 players making it to the weekend. ... Andres Romero celebrated his 28th birthday by putting his tee shot in the water on the 18th hole, making bogey and missing the cut by one.
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